It’s been a long time coming but we are finally back online for website purchases.
Waaay back at the end of March when the lockdown was first announced that Sunday evening, we wondered how this would affect us. When we arrived in the office on the Monday morning, we found out.
Waiting to be processed were over five and a half thousand orders across our sales platforms, From 5pm the previous Friday to 8.30am Monday, we had taken almost 10 days worth of orders. We quickly realised, that was levels of orders we just could not cope with and we also realised no-one knew if any of our suppliers would be open for business or us for that matter. As it turned out as an internet only business, we were allowed to continue trading with just some minor adjustments for social distancing.
We took the unprecedented step of switching off the website for purchases and taking the orders manually over the telephone. This gave us the ability to regain some semblance of control over the situation and also to be able to confirm the availability of ordered products.
Fast forward a few weeks, as it transpired almost all of our suppliers stayed open so obtaining stock was not the issue we thought it would be *more on that later* Things were progressing pretty much as normal except the phones which never stopped ringing. As we were taking the customer orders manually over the telephone, we realised that volume had not slowed down, in fact it had increased by quite a large amount. Initially all the calls were for stock of anything anti-bacterial or anti-viral related cleaning products, needless to say, these vanished very quickly and as we soon discovered from our suppliers also.
As the lockdown went on and the improvements to the weather allowed people outside, the volume of orders switched from cleaning products to DIY products, Oils, wood stains, varnishes, waxes, we couldn’t get them fast enough. This was when we found out that while our suppliers had all been open for business and were happily supplying us with stock, it turns out it was their on hand inventory and no-one had been manufacturing replacement products to replace the items that were sold.
Fast forward a few more weeks, with every stock order we were placing, the lists of out of stock items was getting longer and longer and the shelves were getting more and more empty.
Then the light went on at the end of the tunnel. Things started to ease off and we started to get a few items that were previously unavailable again and slowly the shelves began to fill up enough that we finally felt secure enough to switch on the website again, 179 days since it was switched off.
The situation is still far from perfect, stock from certain suppliers is still very hit and miss and opening each stock delivery is very much a lottery as to what we have received over what was ordered so we have had to add a caveat to the web orders that your order may be subject to change or cancellation should the item or quantity not be readily available.
All of us at Homecare Essentials would like to send a huge thank you to each and every person who has ordered from us and keeps ordering from us since the pandemic. We wouldn’t be here now if it was not for you and your support over the last few months.